Democratic Progressive Party (Singapore)

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Democratic Progressive Party(Suf)
Chairman Mohamad Hamim bin Aliyas
Secretary-General Benjamin Pwee
Founder Seow Khee Leng
Founded March 16, 1973 (1973-03-16)
Ideology Democratic socialism
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The Democratic Progressive Party (abbrev: DPP; Chinese: 民主进步党; Malay: Parti Demokratik Progresif) is a political party in Singapore.

History and political development[edit]

The history of the party dates to 16 March 1973 when the United Front was formed by a splinter group from the Workers' Party led by Seow Khee Leng (former Assistant Secretary-General of WP, 1971–1972).[1] The United Front contested three consecutive elections (1976 general election, 1979 by-election and 1980 general election) before being renamed the Singapore United Front on 5 March 1982, and contested again in the 1984 general election. SUF chief Seow Khee Leng was then sued by Lee Kuan Yew and the ruling PAP government over defamatory remarks made at two rally speeches that Lee and his cabinet were guilty of corruption.[2]

In January 1988, the party merged with Workers' Party to contest the 1988 general election and the Singapore United Front became defunct (though the party remained an officially registered organisation).

On 3 February 1989, former SUF chief Seow Khee Leng was made bankrupt after failing to keep up with payments for damages owed from two separate but similar libel suits brought by Lee Kuan Yew and the PAP government following slandering remarks he had made at general election rallies in 1984 (for which he had been ordered to pay Lee damages of S$250,000 plus court costs and interest, and the PAP government another S$250,000 plus court costs and interest).[3]

In 1992, after the 1991 general election, Seow Khee Leng again led some members out of the Workers' Party and revived the Singapore United Front, renaming it the Democratic Progressive Party.[4]

A father and son pair of Tan Soo Phuan and Tan Lead Shake stood as candidates for the party in the 1997 and 2001 general elections, though they did not achieve much electoral success. Tan Soo Phuan lost his election deposit of S$6,000 at the 1997 general election after he failed to achieve the necessary threshold of 12.5% of the votes which was required to retain his deposit in Chua Chu Kang SMC. In the 2001 general election, Tan Lead Shake lost the election deposit of S$13,000 in Ayer Rajah SMC for the same reason. In July 2002, both father and son were subsequently expelled from the DPP for breaching party's orders during the 2001 general election. (The elder Tan did not inform the party of his decision to contest MacPherson, while the younger Tan contested Ayer Rajah instead of Joo Chiat without informing the party).[5]

After more than a decade of inactivity, in December 2012, Seow Khee Leng invited a group of former members of the Singapore People's Party (SPP) including Benjamin Pwee and Mohamad Hamim Aliyas to join and take over the leadership of the party. Benjamin Pwee was appointed as the party’s Acting Secretary-General in January 2013. At an Ordinary Party Congress meeting held on 31 March 2013, Mohamad Hamim Aliyas and Benjamin Pwee were officially elected as the party’s Chairman and Secretary-General respectively.[6]

Pursuant to a Memorandum of Agreement signed in August 2015, two DPP members (both former SPP candidates in GE2011), Benjamin Pwee and Mohamad Hamim Aliyas, resigned as DPP members and rejoined the SPP to contest Bishan-Toa Payoh Group Representation Constituency in the 2015 general election. However, the SPP team obtained only 26.41% of the valid votes and the duo have since returned to the DPP.

Objectives and policies[edit]

A statement dated 22 April 2013 on the DPP website states "The way forward is to build a society that is equal and egalitarian to all citizens."

A statement dated 16 August 2015 on the DPP website sets out the following policies or proposals:

– Employment: Additional policy measures to ensure a “Singaporeans-first” domestic job market, especially in middle-to-upper management in the civil service and government-linked companies, as well as the private sector.

– Foreign workers: Restrictions to foreign workers in Singapore by industrial sectors, allowing sectors like F&B where fewer Singaporeans are trained for or are interested to work, to employ more foreign workers. And for sectors like engineering, healthcare, banking, to have tighter restrictions, to allow Singaporean PMETs to take on these middle-income jobs more easily.

– Re-skilling: better, more hands-on, more commonplace apprenticeship-based re-skilling programmes for middle-aged workers, rather than classroom-based, taught WDA/WSQ-type programmes that do not fit these middle-aged workers’ learning styles.

– SMEs: practical support for SMEs, including setting up an SME assistance centre, a job-matching programme, a revolving loan fund, an incubation programme, and a mentor-coaching programme, to help owners and managers of SMEs to get back on their feet and become self-sustainable in their businesses.

– Entrepreneurs: policy measures to complement the government’s existing range of solutions, to better help local entrepreneurs start a business and earn a living. This includes those in the design, arts, construction, manufacturing and other sectors.

Central Provident Fund/retirement: a wider range of options and retirement savings programmes that Singaporeans can choose from. Key leaders in the private sector insurance and investment industry to be called upon to come up with better investment and insurance schemes under the CPF structure, to fill in the current gaps in the CPF system.

Malay-Muslim issues: identifying and challenging more Malay-Muslim PMETs to step forward as next-generation community leaders, and together find new solutions for the Malay-Muslim community.

Organization and structure[edit]

Central Executive Committee[edit]

  • Chairman - Mohamad Hamim bin Aliyas
  • Secretary-General - Pwee Yek Kwan Benjamin
  • Treasurer - Juliana binte Juwahir
  • Organising Secretary - Ting Tze Jiang
  • Assistant Organising Secretary - Sa'aban bin Ali
  • Member - Abdul Malik Bin Rahmat


Since 2013, DPP has been led by its Secretary-General Pwee Yek Kwan Benjamin, a Cambridge University graduate and former civil servant and diplomat. He also has a Master in Public Administration from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

Electoral performance[edit]

Although it has a history since 1973, and contested in 5 general elections and 1 by-election, the party failed to win any seats in the Parliament of Singapore.


  1. ^ "Breakaway group from the WP forms new party". The Straits Times. 30 December 1972. 
  2. ^ "PM and Cabinet sue SUF's Seow Khee Leng". The Singapore Monitor - Evening Edition. 21 December 1984. 
  3. ^ "Seow Khee Leng made bankrupt over amount owed to PM". The Business Times. 4 February 1989. 
  4. ^ Democratic Progressive Party,, retrieved 16 February 2013.
  5. ^ "DPP slipper man and father sacked". Today. 2 July 2002. 
  6. ^ "Democratic Progressive Party’s 40th Anniversary". The Online Citizen. Retrieved December 31, 2013. 

External links[edit]